This is an introduction to the properties of seed oils and what role they play when used in cleansing. 

Every seed in the plant kingdom can be pressed and oil extracted from it, and each oil will have a specific quality ranging from very astringent to very emollient, and everything in between.  All vegetable, fruit and seed oils (and seed butters) are combinations of these properties,  which are determined by their unique Fatty Acid profile.  When formulating for skincare it is important to discern if the oils you are using are more "Astringent" or more "Emollient".

It is plant Tannins in the oils which give them their astringent properties. Tannins are polyphenols powerful antioxidants manufactured by plants.  It is the astringency of Tannins which causes you to pucker up when you bite into unripe fruit, and which brings cleansing properties to an oil blend used to clean skin. 

ASTRINGENT OILS

An "Astringent" is a substance which stimulates skin to contract and draw together.  Astringent oils are rich in the essential Omega 6 fatty acid (EFA) called Alpha-Linoleic acid. Oils which are rich in these EFAs are both deeply cleansing as well as deeply nourishing. They are lovely to the touch,  with a light quality, and are easily absorbed into the skin.   

EMOLLIENT OILS

An emollient substance nourishes, conditions, and soothes the skin helping it retain suppleness and to moisture.  Oleic acids, another Fatty Acid found oils which high emolliency. They help strengthen skin and increase its' resilience, helping maintaining healthy skin structure and function.  They are heavier bodied and take longer to be absorbed, and can be an important component in the battle of combating dryness associated with aging skin, and in dry climates. Dry skin is fragile and can be easily damaged, making it vulnerable to bacterial penetration. Bacterial penetration can then lead to itchy outbreaks and acne.  So oils with a higher Oleic acid content can help helping reduce breakouts. 


Cleansing oilS, need to have astringent qualities:  

Astringent oils are effective in reducing sebum.

Oils high in Linoleic Acid are able to quickly penetrate pores and hair follicles where they dissolve dirt, debris and skin oils. 

They are tightening, healing.

They had a drying effect on the skin and used high amounts can lead to dry skin.  

They have proven anti-wrinkle properties. 

They can be helpful in reducing irritation and inflammation. 

They are able to support healthy skin barrier functions.

Linoleic acid benefits skin prone to itchy breakouts. If skin is deficient in Linoleic acid the sebaceous glands of the skin produce a type of sebum which is drier and firmer than healthy sebum and which can easily become stuck and form blackheads and whiteheads. 

An example of an oil rich in linoleic acid is Grape Seed oil. It is light, quickly absorbed, slightly astringent oil, and it is is also considered a nourishing, penetrating oil.  It is not known to clog pores. It is high in Vitamin D, C, E and beta carotene, and antioxidants which can help minimize signs of aging, reduce the appearance of fine lines, maintain collagen and elastin in skin, and may help reduce under-eye circles.  It has anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent itchy breakouts.  It has also been shown to stimulate skin tissue regeneration and improve wound healing.  High levels of antioxidants in Grape Seed oil can help prevent clogged pores and reduce acne by regulating skin oil production.  Grapeseed oil, due to its astringent nature is useful for skin toning and tightening and has been shown to minimize the prominence and size of scars. It is a good choice for sensitive skin and is known not to cause allergic reactions. 

Very oily skin can benefit from a blend of cleansing oils which contains little or no Oleic acids. But care should be taken to not overly dry out the skin. 

Those with dry skin may find oil blends very high in linoleic acid too drying for their skin, and get better results with blends with more Oleic acid rich oils. 


I formulate my blends with a high amount of Linoleic fatty acid rich oils, 60-70%. I balance this with 30-40% oleic acid. I have found this ratio is a good fatty acid ratio for deep cleansing without being too drying and benefits most skin types, even those with occasional itchy outbreaks, sensitivities, recurring clogged pores and dry patches.  

CASTOR OIL:  Currently, I do not include Castor oil in my blends. Castor oil is very astringent and is known to dry out skin and irritation.  If you have very oily skin, Castor you can add a drop or two to my cleansing blend.  

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